San Jose Sharks: Possible Ways To Fill Looming Defensive Hole
Hindsight is a funny thing because it can cause the most solid of choices seem weak and incorrect after the fact has occured. Take for example the San Jose Sharks offseason thus far, where many of Doug Wilson's choices can be second guessed in hindsight.
( See Marty Turco contract, Andy Sutton, Antti Niemi )
Despite the fact that some of us pine to rewind the clock, the fact is that a organization cannot operate with the specter of hindsight looming over their heads. The same goes for us fans as well, despite the huge investment in emotion we have in this team, second guessing moves after they have occured does us no good whatsoever.
The NHL calender continues to countdown as rosters, salaries and lines begin to take form. It is with a clear eye that San Jose Shark fans look to the month of September with great anticipation. By now the Sharks' pressing need on defence has provided plently of rumor mill ammo for those following this team.
One important date did indeed come and pass with no movement, and that was this past Sunday the 15th when Tomas Kaberle's NTC kicked back into effect.
Although many experts had San Jose on Kaberle's itinerary, many fans including myself breathed a sigh of relief.
More on Kaberle later however.
Here then are a few remaining possibilities that can happen, although none will probably go down before next month.
Say Hay Willie
Reports continue to connect Willie Mitchell to a handful of teams, including the Sharks. The Vancouver Canuck defenceman has made his living in the NHL by being a stay at home defenceman with a nasty streak.
Although initially he seems to be exactly what the Sharks need, he also has missed some significant time due to concussions. The sport of hockey being what it is, concussion injuries such as these should not be taken lightly.
The Vancouver Canucks are stacked at the defenceman position and there does not seem to be room for both Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa, heck, might not be room for both.
The Canucks are currently 2,658,333 over the cap, and salary dumping is in order.
Mitchell would step right into the top pairing, and could very well be the lynchpin in the Sharks defence. He ranked 59th last year with a plus minus of +13, scoring four goals and eight assists in only 48 games played.
Positives about Mitchell
- A physical defenceman who has excellent defensive instincts
- Covers ice and clears net well
- Plays with a bit of a nasty streak
- Has a decent shot from the point
- Due to recent missed time, his salary can be managed through incentives
Negatives about Mitchell
- Health - has missed significant playing time last year and his concussions seemed serious.
- Doesn't contribute offensively
Going down in Flames?
When Sharks fans point to our offseason and wring their hands with angst and anxiousness, I point them in the direction of the Calgary Flames. After all, it's not everyday your GM dumps a cornerstone of the franchise (Phaenuf), brings back Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay, overpays Jay Bouwmeester for 3 goals last year, and is currently 2,349,995 over the cap.
To say Darryl Sutter is on the hot seat doesn't even begin to cover it.
Many experts and fans point to two of Flames being possible movers to clear cap space. Cory Sarich ($3.6 million) or Steve Staios ($2.7 million) are two players without any sort of movement restrictions in their contracts.
The real player Doug Wilson should have his eye on is Robyn Regehr, a physical shutdown defenceman Sharks fans are plenty familiar with.
After all, it was the Sharks domination of the Flames which resulted in the Phanuef / Regehr fallout and consequent trade from the Flames to the Maple Leafs.
While this move may be a far fetched one to some as there is a NTC that would have to be waived, it makes most sense to me. Why you ask? Calgary needs scoring, salary cap relief and the Sharks have assets to move.
Positives about Regehr
- Shutdown defenceman
- Likes to intimidate opposition ( something Sharks fans are familiar enough with )
- Makes smart plays with the puck
Negatives about Regehr
- Something in the way of prospects would be going to Calgary to provide cap relief.
No Oil Changes Please
Life's tough for Sheldon nowadays, as tough as it can get when you are in the middle of a 5-year, $27 million contract that is. Yes, another defenceman in a bad situation with another NTC.
Souray is a big body who plays with a very good hockey sense, and possesses a terrific howizter of a shot from the point. He plays defense with zeal, some say too much as he can take the bad penalty or overpursue the puck.
Souray is also someone who has two pretty forgettable years playing on a bad team. His lack of health and ability to play through injuries has fans upset and angry. What may be needed is a change of scenary, although San Jose would have to get creative to allow for Souray's contract.
Mitchell and Huskins to Edmonton would allow for the cap room and still allow Demers to grow into his potential.
Positives about Souray
- Plays very good defence
- Makes smart plays with the puck
- An awesome shot from the point
- Good special teams player
- Has been rumored to want to play in California, something a certain Maple Leaf did not want to do
Negatives about Souray
- Mumblings of attitude and work ethic issues
- Not cheap and would require a creative situation to land him
At 6-foot-4 Nicklas Grossman is the biggest defenseman on the Dallas roster, but he's not a banger type of defenceman. Instead his game revolves around positioning and great defensive fundamentals to what would be a young and promising 4th defender now, but the potential for top pairing minutes.
This past year, playing for a franchise in turmoil, Grossman ranked fourth in ice time among Dallas defenceman. Why would this move make sense? Dallas is in a state of flux currently and has quite a number of RFA's that require their attention.
Extending an offer to Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Blackhawks whose game has a lot of similarities to Grossman. Grossman is also very cheap, extending him an offer would not be prohibitively expensive and worse case scenario Dallas would simply match.
Positives about Grossman
- Plays sound defence
- Can chew up valuable minutes
- A special teams contributor
- Good upside
Negatives about Grossman
- Doesn't play with his size
- Does not have great offensive talents.
Here are some of the other notables around the league who the Sharks could also be interested in.
Marc Staal - NY Rangers - 827,000 cap hit
- Although he is a favorite for Sharks fans here on B/R, it's not going to happen. Sather has pretty much confirmed any offer would be matched and talks are continuing to move forward.
Tomas Kaberle - Toronto Maple Leafs - 4.5 million
- Even though Kaberle wasn't on the move before last Sunday, he can still be moved and San Jose will probably continue to factor in considering that Burke does not want Kaberle to walk without compensation. Despite this, Kaberle does not want to play in the West, and further has no reason to waive his NTC.
Braydon Coburn - Philadelphia Flyers - 1.3 million
- It's nice to dream no? Depending on what happens in the entire Kovy contract issue and in relation with Pronger's contract in particular the Flyers are by no means done. Despite sporting what could be the NHL's best and deepest defensive corps, Coburn is a valued commodity and it would be tough to pry him away.